Terry McBride Interview
In a relatively short amount of time, Terry McBride made quite a name for himself in Country circles.
Just consider: In 1989, Terry put together his group McBride And The Ride. In 1991, the group was nominated for the Top Vocal Group from both the Academy Of Country Music and the Country Music Association. They won Cashbox Magazine’s “New Group Of The Year” award that same year. Two albums yielded two Number One records and two Top 5 Singles.
Terry spoke about his rise to fame and the new line-up in The Ride.
Q - What’s going on with The Ride? Your publicist tells me there’s
been some changes in the band.
A – Oh, yeah.
Q – You get a little success and it goes right
to your head!
A – (Laughs). It’s completely the opposite. We got a little success and one of the guys realized that maybe this was a great opportunity for him to become a solo artist. So, that’s how it all came about. One of the members Ray Herndon went to M.C.A. first before he came to me and said, “I think it’s time for me to go on and become a solo artist”. And Billy Thomas has gone on to work for Vince Gill. We decided we were gonna change once Ray was gone. M.C.A. came in and said we’re gonna change the focus of the band. We’re gonna make it more Terry McBride as opposed to McBride And The Ride. There had been a lot of confusion. They were trying so hard to get all three of us out front. But then actually when you come to see us the band was comprised of 5 guys but one of ‘em was McBride. There was a lot of people voicing their feelings about this confusion. So, this was a way to clarify that.
Q – So it looks to me like Ray and Billy were along
for the Ride.
A – There you go man, I’ll use that. (Laughs). I think I can use that.
Q – But, only if they don’t become stars.
A – That’s right. Well, Ray’s got his work cut out. He’s cut 3 or 4 songs. He went all over town and it’s tough. It’s tough to get a record deal right now.
Q – Why do you suppose that is?
A – Well, I think the competition is fierce. It takes more than just one thing. You can’t be just good looking or just a good singer or a writer. It almost takes all of that-----and more. You gotta be a great writer these days to get an A and R guy interested in you. It’s not the days of here’s a good-looking guy who sings well. Every now and then maybe one of those will slip through, but, they’re looking for artists. They’re looking for guys that have the whole package.
Q – So when Garth Brooks told Barbara Walters there
were guys in Nashville who could sing better, write better, and looked better-----why
then was Garth signed?
A – Hey-----timing is everything! He met the right guy at the right time that dug that material that he had. Although, Garth will tell you he got rejected by everybody in town. Everybody turned him down and then finally, slowly but surely he made some headway.
Q – Your group has been together for really only 5 years…..
A – Yeah. And really only 4 years since we actually started recording and traveling.
Q – Your climb to the top was pretty fast wasn’t
A – Yeah. It really was. We had a big record off the first album, “Can I Count On You”, and then another single that followed up and did really well. And then the next single off the second album was a Number One record, “Sacred Ground”, and then 5 more Top 5 records to follow.
Q – Since your father was in the business, did
you have a distinct advantage over somebody else who comes off a bus in Nashville,
suitcase in hand, with dreams of making it in Country music?
A – Well, I think maybe the advantage I had was early on having someone to guide me through music itself; answering questions that I had about being a player, reading music, that sort of thing. But, having my Dad in Country didn’t give me any advantage as far as opening any doors.
Q – You couldn’t get your demo into a record
co. any faster?
A – No.
Q – No management or agent would take a look at
A – No. I really didn’t go through any ropes of anyone that knew my Dad. I pretty much tried to do it on my own and spent many years being rejected. It wasn’t until I met some co-writers in Austin, Bill Carter and Ruth Ellsworth who were writing some tunes for Stevie Ray Vaughn and Fabulous Thunderbirds; we went in and wrote a bunch of songs and a friend at B.M.I. Jody Williams heard the stuff. We were coming to town really in hopes of someone like George Strait or someone cutting these songs. Through Jody Williams, he said, “Man these demos are great. I’m gonna make some appointments around town with A and R people, and see if we can’t get Terry a deal”! And that’s really where it came from. It was someone I didn’t even know up until that point.
Q – You’d been trying for how long?
A – I’d been trying since ’85 and it finally happened in ’89. As far as making trips to Nashville, I actually started in ’85. Then I went on the road with Delbert McClinton for a couple of years and sort of didn’t pursue the writing thing as much. Soon as I got off the road in ’87, that’s when I set my sights at just writing constantly.
Q – Were you able to do that full-time or did you
have to get another job?
A – Well, I was playing during that time, doing little gigs in Austin and my wife went to work. She went to school and became a nurse. So, she kind of picked up the slack there to say the least, and really enabled me to be a writer. We sat down and said this is what we really want to do to get off the road and try to create music rather than play someone else’s music. I was doing gigs for $35 and $50 a night. I was playing with 3 different bands at the time.
Q – How did you learn how to write not just songs,
but hit songs?
A – I surrounded myself with a lot of music. My Dad was pretty much a Country artist, but, he listened to a little bit of everything. My first single that I loved and wore out was “Hold On I’m Comin” by Sam And Dave. That was my favorite when I was 5, 6 years old. So, I just acquired a love for music. I would lay down in front of the stereo on the weekend when some kids were out playing and I was content maybe to listening to the soundtrack from “Jesus Christ Superstar”. I was digging it. I loved music. At 14, I started becoming a good player, as a bass player and then I started playing in bands. I was off and running.
Q – You probably can’t imagine yourself doing anything other than
what you’re doing?
A – Yeah, that’s it man. I’ve been fortunate. I look back and there were years of struggling. Five years ago I was one of those guys that really couldn’t pay my bills. I had cars re-possessed. People want to talk about problems-----I’ve been there. I believe you take certain roads that lead you down paths and sometimes it didn’t look like I was taking the right road, (laughs), but now as I look back; all the experience that I gained from all the situations has really paid off now.
Q – Are you working harder now?
A – Oh, you bet, especially now with the change and the focus being more on me. I want to see everything through whether it’s the logo for merchandise or the arrangements we do ‘live’, songs we pick for the album, whatever. I’m pretty much a hands on person anyway. So, I’m enjoying that.